Portland Japanese Garden buys the Salvation Army’s White Shield campus as an education and conference center
the Portland Japanese Garden the organization acquired the Salvation Army Campus near Northwest Portland Forest Park to expand educational and cultural programs, including festivals and art exhibits, beyond the hilltop garden property three thousand in Southwest Portland’s Washington Park.
After a renovation, the new place of 2640 NW Alexandra Ave. will be the headquarters of the Portland Japanese Garden’s Japan Institutean extension of the garden’s vision of being a “leading global voice for cultural understanding, in pursuit of a more peaceful and sustainable world,” according to a announcement cleared by the garden.
The 3.65 acre former campus of the Salvation Army and its centenary White Shield Centerwhich once housed single and abandoned mothers and their children, will be transformed into a meeting place for world leaders, peace ambassadors, artists, gardeners and intellectuals, the announcement said.
The Japan Institute will use the existing brick buildings as art galleries and classrooms as well as dining halls and residences for visiting artists and students. The grounds will be used by novice and seasoned gardeners alike to practice distinctive landscape techniques.
“We are grateful to be the next stewards of this historic property,” said Steve Bloom, CEO of the Portland Japanese Garden in the ad. “As an organization founded on similar ideals around peace and healing, we take seriously our responsibility that this land’s legacy of community service continues for generations to come.”
The Portland Japanese Garden began as a quiet space for cross-cultural understanding after World War II. The original 5.5 acre site was barren by animals before the Oregon Zoo was moved to Washington Park.
Over 28,000 visitors viewed the garden when it opened for the summer and fall of 1967.
In 2017, the $37.5 million Traversée culturelle expansion project, designed by architect Kengo Kuma of Japan and Portland Japanese Garden curator Sadafumi Uchiyama included three steel and glass pavilions with art and performance spaces, a classroom, library, gift shop, and tea cafe.
The site now has eight gardens and has approximately 350 events per year on Japanese culture, tradition and aesthetics.
The purchase price has not been made public. The majority of the property was owned by the charity, but some of the land was managed by Portland Parks & Recreation.
About half of the funds needed to upgrade and renovate the Japan Institute campus have been raised, according to Portland Japanese Garden spokesman Will Lerner. Fundraising documents indicate that the original goal was $20 million.
The Japan Institute campus could open by 2024, Lerner said. The first artist in residence is expected to arrive in fall 2022.
The non-profit organization Portland Japanese Garden must complete an extensive permitting process, carry out upgrades and seismic repairs, and select an architectural firm to renovate the spaces to meet the needs of the Japan Institute and have accessible universal design features.
The two- and three-story brick buildings, which cost $60,000 to construct in 1916, were designed by influential Portland architect A. E. Doyle, who also designed the Meier & Frank building (now the Hotel The Nines), the Multnomah County Central Library and another city icon: the bronze Benson Bubbler public fountains.
Many of Japan Institute’s programs, global collaborations, and experiential education offerings are already well known to visitors and members of the Portland Japanese Garden, considered by experts to be the most authentic japanese garden outside of Japan.
The new venue will have more space for:
The World Center for Culture and Art with art exhibitions; artist-in-residence programs; the Japan Eats culinary series; Classes and demonstrations of Chado, Ikebana, Bonsai, Shodo and Haiku; Japanese craft workshops; performing arts programs and Go-Sekku festivals.
International exchange forums on peace, art and nature. Portland events include the inaugural Japanese Cultural Conference in North America in 2024 and the inaugural Grand Gardens of the Global Leadership Forum in 2026.
The International Japanese Garden Training Center will host hands-on horticulture courses and continue Waza To Kokoro Seminar and the series of gardening workshops.
— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072
Learn more about the Portland Japanese Garden
• $33.5 million expansion of Portland Japanese Garden completed on schedule, despite daunting challenges
• The fascinating history of the Portland Japanese Garden
• Portland Japanese Garden and other attractions make plans to reopen
• “Top Chef” Portland: chefs head to the Japanese Garden for a “Tofu Tournament”